NEW CASTLE — A public forum was held this past Thursday night at the town library to answer questions about health care coverage options available in the state.
Dr. Thomas Sherman, who is also a Democratic state representative from Rye, moderated the forum and invited a panel of experts on the Affordable Care Act to discuss changes to individual and group insurance, Medicaid expansion and Medicare.
“There are many changes going on at the state and national level,” Sherman said. “There is a lot of confusion because it seems so complex to many.”
Sherman said most New Hampshire residents now have the opportunity to have health coverage, whether through the ACA marketplace, the N.H. Health Protection Program, through their employer, or through Medicare.
Experts on the panel included N.H. Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Nick Toumpas; James Farrelly, vice president of employee benefits, USI Insurance Services LLC; Aaron Holman, spokesman for the N.H. Department of Health Insurance; and Maureen Kerrigan, partnership manager for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Region 1.
“A hot topic in New Hampshire is that Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield was the only insurance carrier to deliver the ACA marketplace plans this first year,” Sherman said.
Anthem also has a narrow network that excluded 10 of the hospitals in the state including Portsmouth Regional Hospital.
Holman said there will be five insurance carriers to choose from during the open enrollment period that begins Nov. 15.
“Across these five carriers, all the hospitals will have at least two carriers and some will have three or more,” he said. “There will be more than 50 plans to choose from.”
Anthem offered 11 plans that were tiered by metal-named layers — bronze, silver and gold — with a catastrophic plan offered to people under the age of 30. Most people chose plans in the silver tier.
“The good news is that it was predicted that 19,000 people in the state would sign up in the (ACA) marketplace,” Holman said. “In fact, more than 40,000 have signed up. New Hampshire exceeded federal expectations by the highest margin.”